REVELATION 21 & 22
Chapter 21 begins with Apostle John being shown a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away. Then he is shown the new Jerusalem, the Holy City, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. A loud voice from the throne declares, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new!
There will be a whole new creation, a renewal and a re-creation of this world. This current world is like a glorious ruin. We can see some of the splendour and the beauty with which God made the world; we also see the ruin we see it in the disasters, the famines, the earthquakes, the wars, the diseases and we know it in the pain, the disappointments, the frustration and the hurt. Romans 8 tells us:
The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The apostle Peter wrote:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2 Peter 3:10-13
The apostle John sees the fulfilment of Gods promise to make everything new a new people of God in a new heaven and earth with a new order of things.
There is a pause with the reminder that this is only for those who overcome; it is not for the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – theirs will be the fiery lake of burning sulfur which is the second death.
Then John is brought by one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls to behold the bride of the lamb, the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. The city actually pictures Gods perfected people, those who were born again and redeemed. The city is not the place where believers will live; the city is the people of God themselves. The redeemed people of God constitute the New Jerusalem; they collectively become the bride of Christ. It is Christ who purifies them; He saves them from the penalty of sin in dying for them; He also rescues them from the power and presence of sin in His renewal of them. That renewal is going on as they live by the Spirit and grow in holiness. Subsequently, on the day He returns and institutes the new heaven and the new earth, the work of renewal is completed. They will be perfected in their godliness. What is wrecking the world now is not just the curse on the physical world but also the on-going sin in the lives of Gods people and the people of the world.
However, the New Jerusalem shines like precious jewels; there is nothing dirty or shameful about it. It is perfected in beauty and glory and that is what God is going to do with His people. They, the redeemed, will be perfected by God so that they are like a pure bride, beautifully dressed for Christ and without blemish, with a heart that is so purified to love the bridegroom such that all other loves will be stripped away.
Notice in verse 16 that the city is the same dimension in length and breadth and height. It is a perfect cube. There is one other structure in the Bible that is a perfect cube; it is the Holy of Holies. This is where God’s glory is, in the temple of God. There is no temple in the new creation; the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are its temple. In this new city, there is no darkness, there are no shadows, there is complete safety and security because God is there in all His fullness. The glory of the Lord God fills the temple; His glory, His presence shines through in every part of the city of God. Here in this new creation, God will wipe away every tear; He will make right what was wrong; there will be no more pain, no more death, no more sorrow.
In chapter 22, the same angel showed John the river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. There will be no longer any curse and no more night. God will give them light and they will reign forever and ever. The river of God brings life where there was death. Life is flowing out from God, renewing His creation and bringing healing to the nations. It is a picture of a community; a people from every tribe and tongue and nation united together as God meant us to be. God has always desired that His people will live together in a loving community just as He lives in loving community within the three persons (trinity) of the Godhead.
In the closing of the chapter, we hear, Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. These are the words of the Lord Jesus. Again, it is repeated in verse 12,
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Blessed indeed are those who have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Let the people hear and take note. Let the churches hear and listen! He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
And again, we read,
He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon.
Let us be awake and be vigilant. Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Come, Lord Jesus.